Investors lost confidence in the greentech sector after Solyndra’s collapse in late 2011. Since then, funding to solar has fluctuated, dropping more than 50% from 2012 to 2013, before rising again in 2014 with $1.8B invested, only to fall again in 2015.
However, funding to wind — a market smaller than solar in terms of deals and dollars to private companies — has grown tenfold from 2012 to 2015 and seen three straight years of growth. In 2015, funding to wind companies grew 6% over the previous year, while dollar investment in solar dropped 34%.
Despite tumbling fossil fuel prices, a total of 216 solar and 78 wind energy companies have drawn deals between 2012 and 2016 year-to-date. The companies raised more than $6.8B in aggregate. Our funding analysis takes into account all equity funding and includes convertible note rounds.
The deals have continued in 2016, even as oil dropped below $30 a barrel. In just the first two months of 2016, two wind energy startups — US-based United Wind ($200M) and India’s SITAC RE ($168.5M)— raised financing.
Global yearly deal activity and funding
The peak in solar investments in 2014 was led by two $200M+ rounds: Japan-based Nippon Renewable Energy’s $250M private equity round and $250M in financing raised by Texas-based Sunnova Energy Corp. That same year, California’s Sunrun raised a $150M Series E round, from investors including Accel Partners, Foundation Capital, Madrone Capital Partners, and Sequoia Capital.
The top 3 funding rounds in wind last year were all raised by Indian startups: a $265M private equity round by ReNew Power Ventures, a $230M private equity round to Ostro Energy and $165M in financing to Welspun Renewables Energy.
Though the number of wind deals dropped to below 15 last year after a peak of over 30 in 2014, the average deal size increased from $2.7M to $55.5M, according to our data, meaning there were fewer but larger deals.
In quarterly terms, deals and dollars in solar peaked in Q4’14, led by the previously mentioned $250M round raised by Sunnova Energy Corp and a $140M private equity round raised by Tennessee-based Silicon Ranch Corporation.
Investment in wind slowed in the second and third quarters of 2015, but rapidly increased in the last quarter, driven by the previously-mentioned mega rounds raised by ReNew Power Ventures and Welspun Renewables Energy.
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